Mindset of the Olympic Weightlifter

Carol Dweck is a distinguished professor and well-published researcher in Psychology who has taught at the universities of Columbia, Harvard, Illinois and Stanford where she is still a member of faculty. In 2006 Dweck published an influential book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dweck theorised a continuum between believing that one’s abilities are innate and believing that one’s abilities are based on hard work and learning. According to Dweck, if a person believes that their potential is governed by innate factors then they have a “fixed mindset”. Whereas, if a person believes their potential is governed by their individual effort and learning, then they have a “growth mindset”. Importantly, Dweck’s view was that people who are high-achievers have a Growth Mindset.

Component Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset
Ultimate Potential The athlete’s ultimate potential is dictated   by genetics The athlete’s ultimate potential is dictated to some degree by   genetics and but mostly by what they can learn about the training process.
Believing that the limit of your potential is already written in   stone. Believing that the limit of your potential depends on factors you can   control
Basing your belief about what you can achieve by what others have   achieved before you in the same environment. The same factors that controlled   them, also control you. Believing that there is no reason why you cannot improve beyond what others   have done before you in the same environment provided you can learn more
Training Effort The struggle experienced in training is a problem, find a solution to   fix it The struggle experienced in training is a part of life, embrace it,   it has value
Obstacles to increased training, lead to self-doubt and lowered   expectations Obstacles to increased training, lead to increased efforts to find   solutions
Learning The athlete believes the coach is responsible for determining the   learning process The athlete takes responsibility for the own learning process.
Technique The athlete views errors of technique as evidence of a probable   ongoing problem. The athlete views errors of technique as a necessary part of learning   success
The athlete tends to think about their skill level in terms of some   things they do well and some things they don’t do well. The athlete tends to think about their skill level as a work-in-progress   and all aspects can be improved
The athlete thinks that their technical ability is limited by learning   situations that have already taken place The athlete thinks that their technical ability is limited by learning   situations that are yet to occur
Success The athlete views success as being the best athlete (weightlifter) The athlete views success as achieving mastery of being an athlete (weightlifter)
Goals The athlete sets goals related to performance The athlete sets goals related to process
Competition Performance Lower than expected results in competition tend to diminish motivation   in training Lower than expected results in competition tend to increase   motivation in training
Physical Prowess The athlete attributes their physical prowess to immutable genetic   factors The athlete attributes their physical prowess to the training process   they have followed
“Coachability” The athlete is more interested in feedback on how their technique “looks” The athlete is more interested in feedback on how to improve their   technique
Drugs in Sport The athlete attributes outstanding results to outstanding   pharmacology The athlete attributes outstanding results to outstanding individuals

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